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How To Build a Blog
When I started to build a blog almost 15 years ago, I said it was a journey we were taking together. I was going to learn to blog, and I hoped you’d accompany me.
I also said I would be transparent about what I was doing, how I was doing it, and how it was going. Then, if interested, you could learn how to create a similar program.
I usually write about many things that interest me, from branding to technology to marketing to philosophy to travel. But from time to time I’ve written posts that are simply about what I’ve learned from creating this blog. I’ve tried to share my experiences, successes and failures, the metrics of my work, the various technologies I’ve used, and the different people and resources that have helped me along the way. Again, my fondest wish is that you’ve found these posts interesting and instructive.
Today, after writing and posting over 800 blogs, I decided to share this information again. I do this to give you insight into how I do what I do and to help you create your own outreach program. I do not have any connection to the products or companies I will discuss, and I don’t earn affiliate fees or commissions by recommending them; they are simply the tools I use to produce and distribute this blog.
I write the blog on a MacBook Pro laptop using Microsoft Word. I recently subscribed to Grammarly and have been experimenting with that app to improve my proofreading and editing. Right now, the jury’s out – I’m having a love/hate relationship with the AI editor.
Once the blog is written, I transfer the text to my iPad and an app called PromptSmart Pro. It’s the teleprompter program I use to read the blog for the videos. The great thing about PromptSmart is that it’s voice-activated, moving the type along at the same pace I read. At first I had trouble keeping it scrolling in time to my read, but eventually I realized that the app couldn’t “hear” me from the distance I was standing. Since that revelation, I use a second microphone which I run directly into the iPad, and I haven’t had the problem since.
Most people shoot Vlogs on their iPhones, but I prefer a camera’s greater resolution and flexibility. So, after trying many different cameras, I followed my friend Terry Bell’s recommendation and bought a Sony DSC-RX100M7. It’s small, easy to use, and takes gorgeous pictures.
Of course, anyone who shoots video knows that lighting and sound are two essential requirements for a quality product.
For lighting, I use Elgato’s LED system. I control the lights (ring light in front, a light on either side, and a “hair” light up above) from my phone. Together they create bright, even, and endlessly adjustable light. And thanks to input from my friends Brian Walter and Karl Ahlrichs (and a lot of trial and error), I finally got the lights set up correctly.
Sound is recorded on a Tentacle Sync digital recorder that Chris West recommended. I always use this little device – from recording musical performances to documenting my stage presentations. Besides being small and simple, the Tentacle Sync does not peak out. That means I never have to worry about recording levels; I press and play, and the results are perfect.
Once the blog is recorded, I edit it in Apple iMovie. I used to edit in FinalCuts Pro but found it was much more powerful and complicated than I needed. iMovie is very sophisticated but simple to use.
Once I’ve edited the video, I run it through Descript to create the close captions. Then I upload the completed video to YouTube.
The text is uploaded to WordPress, where I create the blog post on my website and the newsletter for direct distribution. Then I distribute the newsletter you’re reading or the video you’re watching through AWS.
Finally, Ana Polyakova and Scott Cabrera upload the post onto Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Those social media sites, plus email, give the post access to almost 300,000 potential readers. We then monitor all the distribution points to ensure we capture all the replies and respond when appropriate.
I constantly experiment with new ideas and technologies to see what works best to build a blog. And I also write about different ideas in different ways to see what generates the most interest and responses.
But most of all, I’m constantly looking at the metrics and statistics. I am very happy and thankful that you’re reading my writing. Thank you.